There’s a lot of talk in the media about millennials and young people ruining the economy by not buying houses or ruining traditional families by not getting married or having kids but there aren’t nearly enough conversations with actual young people about what they want the world to look like. Not Today dives directly into one twenty-something’s mind as she navigates grief, guilt, and overwhelming anxiety about climate change.
Originally running at the Bordello Room in 2021 before a tour to Melbourne, Not Today has been tightened into a neat and highly relatable exploration of the pressures young people face in tougher and tougher job and housing markets, anxiety about helplessness and complacency around climate change, and feelings like grief that are difficult to work through at any age. Ally Morgan is a typical 26-year-old who thinks everything would be a lot better if we just solved climate change, a task she has graciously taken on as a personal challenge. But, in the meantime, she has reluctantly booked an appointment with a psychologist at the behest of her partner where the psych walks her through a meditation practice. Through the power of visualisation, Ally conjures up her happy place, a stage in front of an excitable and willing audience, where she’s able to unpack her complicated feelings with a song cycle.
Director Miranda Middleton and writer Ally Morgan have reworked the through-line of Ally’s psychologist appointment since earlier iterations such that Ally’s mission to solve climate change while meandering through her relationships, loss of her grandmother, her difficult job, and feelings of self-doubt was much more clearly established and organically rendered. The set design by Grace Deacon created a larger-than-reality back-drop for Ally’s fantasy performance complete with huge sheets of clouds, balloons, and a cozy bedroom nook like a whimsical teenage dream. The lighting design by Aron Murray took advantage of the large space by back-lighting the clouds for an engulfing sense of space, countered with targeted lighting through lamps on stage that brought focus down to the warm and immediate intimacy of Ally’s memories. This sense of large, imaginative possibilities balanced with small, personal moments kept up the momentum of the production and matched the tone of Morgan’s music as both individual reflection and commentary.
Morgan’s performance was highly engaging as she integrated low-stakes audience interaction, vulnerable disclosures, and a hilarious mix of anecdotes and high-strung denial that characterised Ally as perhaps so self-aware that she’s circling back into ignorance. One stand-out song, an addition to this rendition of the production, titled “A Lump in My Vagina” perfectly summarised the combination of catastrophising and naivety that made Ally so easily likeable. But it was hard not to get caught up in the humour of Morgan’s high-energy, self-deprecating, single-mindedness as Ally routinely put-off helping herself and looking inward in favour of getting back to the issue at hand: saving the world from climate change.
This new development of the 2021 production was satisfying with an overall increase in professionalism, creative vision, and narrative cohesion which made for a very enjoyable, humorous, and relatably human examination of the concerns of our times.
Not Today ran at the Seymour Centre from September 13th – 17th as part of the Sydney Fringe Festival and Made in Sydney
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